Thursday, December 30, 2004

Breakfast Served Anytime All Day

Cindy Lawson another Missouri writer took me up on my question. What poet/poetry book has meant the most you this year? Cindy's choice was Donald Hall's Breakfast Served Anytime All Day : Essays on Poetry New and Selected. Cindy not only made and excellent case for her choice, but shared some personal insight to her connection with Hall. I recommend heading over to her site and reading her post on this subject. I now have to add this book to my 2005 Reading list. See what I got myself into?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Kansas City Area Event - New Years

New Years Day
Sharon Eiker and the Writers Place
will host the
event starting at 1:00 p.m.
January 1st
Readers will be alloted up to 10 minutes
of their own work or works of other writers
that inspired them.
The Writers Place is located at
3607 Pennsylvania
Kansas City, Missouri
call 816-753-1090 to get on the list
program runs from 1:00 p.m. till midnight!

The End Of The Line

Two things have converged to bring me to the subject for this blog entry. One is the passing of yet another year and the other, the passing of another writer. The two I suppose are inevitable. Like night follows the day, we can and I suppose should expect it.

NPR's piece Marking the Legacies of Writers Lost in 2004 is a fitting pause and reflection of another year gone and the writers lost as well. Alan Cheuse remembers those writers who died this year, with help from poet George Garrett, who reads his poem "Anthologies."

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Morning Poems by Robert Bly - Uncommonly Common

The other day when I mentioned that I would blog about the poetry book which I believe was the most influential one to me that I read this past year, I did not at that moment have a specific book in mind. There are a number of poets that I have read individual works of that were inspiring to me, but not an entire book written by them, so I will limit my choice the criteria of a book by a single poet. There are many that have impacted me in one way or another. But I have chosen in the end, a book that is written by a living poet, Robert Bly.

Morning Poems by Robert Bly is a small book. I read it the first time in an afternoon on a bus trip with my youngest daughter. Reading aloud many of the poems that struck me as the most interesting. My daughter, who is not particularly into poetry, seemed to enjoy many of these gems. A book of poems that can penetrate the minds that are normally closed to poetry must have something going for them.

What Bly's book did most for me was to reinforce the idea that poetry that is not static. Most of these works were about what seemed like common folks -- in common situations in life that were often told in a most uncommon context. I liked that. I liked the freedom that seemed to radiate from the pages. The freedom to know it was alright to let go with my own writing and be more bold about the images. It is very liberating to come to that point where I can accept that I don't have to explain away everything... like the poem must have a set of instructions to understand it.

Bly also reinforces that notion that writing about common things is quite all-right. I do recognize Bly as a poet with a history of activism. An outspoken critic of the war in Vietnam and the present war in Iraq. He can be quite serious about some of his messages. This is alright by me because I certainly believe that when possible, poets should play a role in the defense of humanity. But alas, it is his "down home" subject matter I like and the fact that he can challenge you so well with his imagery of everyday life.

I'd like to know some of your favorite poetry books - ones that greatly impacted you any why.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Casual Geology

Mars is not the dead planet after all.
Perhaps it is indigestion or
Some other gaseous outburst.
Pictures reveal it to be geologically active.
I hope it is practicing safe geology.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


It has become cold here. Single digit type cold. No white stuff, but that is fine by me. In fact I'd be tickled silly if it were to sprint right up to the 60's.

Last couple of nights I have been able to work on some previous writing "bits and pieces" and some ideas. Not quite as much has come together as I'd like, but the process is there and I think I have some things that are on the verge of working. I just need to press on with it.

As we come to the end of this year, I have been giving some thought to what poet and/or perhaps poetry book has perhaps meant the most to me this year... and of course the obligatory answer to the question, "Why?" I figure this is a worthy topic for an end of the year blog. I'm going to think about this further... and post my answer by the end of the week. So stay tuned if you are interested. It might be fun to pose the question around the poetry/poetics blogland as well, so if you are inclined to take a shot at this as well, let me know and I'll link your blog posts on the same.

Monday, December 20, 2004

I have NOT fallen off the world.

Friday night - went to a Christmas program the Kansas City Symphony does each year. Enjoyable performance - wide range of material and I always am silly with awe over Handel's Messiah.

Saturday night, wife and I attended a Christmas Party with a number of my local writing friends. Enjoyable... shared readings - food and drink. Exchanged gifts. My 2005 word power should be increasing thanks to Missi's gift.

All I have time for at this moment... but I will acknowledge the following response by Eileen to my last post. You see, I knew I could count on her to respond and I knew she would say more about the whole economic theory of Cultural Capital. (Hee-he in a deeply sinister voice)

Such is the expanse of moi talents I'm even an energizer-Bunny. Preen.

Thank you for the shamble, Michael. And as regards your query on how to increase one's "cultural capital"? The key, Sweetie, is always to give it away.

Poetry is quite transparently karmic that way.

And I do mean give it away -- not give it away hoping for something in return.

Okay: one more tip. Sweetie -- wink all you want, but never blink. Lucidity poetics, and all that.

Hmmm. Well, of course, there's another alternative interpretation to my vast Peepdom. I may have many Peeps for the same reason that cars slow down on the highway to look at a humongous, fire-blazing crash. Moi blather can burn so prettily, moithinks.

But what is the "it" -- this it one gives away, pipes up another peep listening into this fascinating conversation. Ah, the Chatelaine thinks, Is that you, Peep #403, the one always so concerned about your poetic career? She lifts a wing and from her armpit shoots out the arrow of compassion. Then the Chatelaine turns her lovely head to look straight into Peep #403's beady eyes, and with loving detachment snorts forth her very helpful reply: You want me to define the IT of Poetry? Peep -- do Moi get paid financial capital to do this blog?

Incidentially - her peep count is up to 20,000,022 but who's counting right?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I Must Have Blinked!

Shambled over to The Chatelaine's Poetics today to find that Eileen is now up to ten million-twenty peeps. Like when did this happen? I blinked and there is all of a sudden another peep!
Me thinks they are reproducing when the PC is off. Really, I'm sure it's all that cultural capital she is accumulating. Unlike Bush (who threatens to use or "spend"his political capital) Eileen is quietly saving and maybe even hoarding hers. I think she collects all these peeps via the accumulation of the cultural capital. Each peep represents a culture token. The girl is loaded!

Okay, I'm starting to sound envious. Maybe jealous. I admit it... I'm a tad bit jealous. I see all this energy and all these peeps and I just can't help it.

Seriously, Eileen seems most of the time wound-up tighter than a clock. I don't mean "up tight" so don't flood my comment box with accusations that I think Eileen is anal retentive. It has occurred to me that (and this is strictly from following her exploits via her blog and seeing some of the material she had produced) Eileen is a very busy poet who I never hear complain that she just can't seem to do one more thing. So, what am I getting at? She has to be totally loving her work and can't get enough of it, the energizer poet-bunny, or a damn good actress. I'm leaning toward the first two. Maybe even a combination of both.

So, like how do we poor peep-deprived, cultural-capital-drained folks move from the ranks of the lesser-haves to the Eileen level? I've rubbed the cover of Menage A Trois With the 21st Century and I didn't notice anything happen. Reading it on the other hand did enrich me, but that has only inspired me to hunger and thirst more for developing a stronger poetic voice.

Did you expect me to answer that question? I'm still thinking. You'll have to stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

All Punked Up and Had To Write

Back from Park U reading. Just a little bit more than keyed up. I didn't say manic...

They latest copy of their Lit publication was out with one of my poems in it. Very nice publication I might add.

The reading tonight was only about fifteen people but some very nice material. Several Northland writing group members present. Scot, Sheila, Chris, Terry, Pat, Missi and myself. Did I miss anyone?

I read seven pieces - most of which were smaller. Two brand new.

I got my Poets & Writers mag in the mail today. Looks like a really good issue. Rediscovering John Gardner looks good. A piece on "Chick-Lit." The feature article on John Haskell and I don't know what it is... but Richard Wilbur seems to be everywhere these past few weeks and there is a piece on him. I am also interested to read yet another piece on the Patriot Act and it's impact on writing. I have skimmed this one already and am anxious to sink my teeth into it.

Reading Tonight at Park University

I will be reading tonight on the Park University Campus. This will be my first time in this venue and I have some brand new material. The combination of the two makes for a particular "high" that is satisfying. Now if I just do well and the reception is good.

Completely off the subject of my reading tonight, I wanted to share this quotation from Ursula K. Le Guin.

"It is a terrible thing, this kindness that human beings do not lose. Terrible because when we are finally naked in the dark and cold, it is all we have. We who are so rich, so full of strength, wind up with that small change. We have nothing else to give."

I wonder is it really so terrible? Perhaps we value kindness too little.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The Bridge of A Nose

"A man finds room in the few square inches of the face for the traits of all his ancestors; for the expression of all his history, and his wants." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I see an individual
fade in and out
of the collective
of generations.

I see the past;
the future.
Desires measured
against harsh disappointments.

I see a man
in a face.
I see history
and I see inevitable.

Monday, December 13, 2004

A Couple Of Poets

God, what planet have I been on? I just realized the other day that DENISE DUHAMEL and NICK CARBO are married. To each other even! I found this fascinating.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Friday Open Mic

Riverfront Reading Series
The Writers Place
3607 Pennsylvania
Kansas City, MO
Friday - December 10th
The annual holiday open mic
special event
Poems and short prose with a holiday, end of year or new year theme are welcome. Limited to two short works or one longer work not over 7 minutes.
Show up... Sign up... Read & Listen to others.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Sigh... Received a rejection letter today on a packet five poems I sent out in October.

Yesterday, I heard that one poem was accepted by a publication associate with local University's English department and a second one they would like to hold for consideration in a future issue. So I guess a mixed bag of goods is better then nothing.

Happy First Birthday

I understand that Ivy Is Here has reached a milestone and hit a one year anniversary today. Yeah! This is one of several poetry blogs I keep close tabs on. Always a good read.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Poem & A Movie

Tom Beckett cracked me up with the two squirrels talking in bed.

I see IVY made it safely down under. I especially enjoyed her interview at MiPO.

I wrote a poem this weekend that I was quite happy wit. A rather short, minimalist verse - Harsh Brushstrokes. Also worked on my non-fiction work on Candlestick Park.

Yesterday - had writers group at Maple Woods campus and then watched a video (The Terminal) with my family.

Thought Tom Hanks was very effective in the lead role. Movie seemed a bit slow at times, but in all honesty, I think that was necessary to establish the appreciation of Victor's plight. I enjoyed the movie.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Airel Restored

NEW YORK (AP) - British painter and writer Frieda Hughes was 35 before she was able to even glance at the poetry of her mother, Sylvia Plath, whose painfully sharp images and tumultuous life have captivated readers for decades.

But now, having flown from Wales for the occasion, Hughes sat calmly for more than two hours Tuesday evening as six authors read Ariel: The Restored Edition. It was the first time that the restored manuscript had ever been publicly read in its entirety.

The 40 ferocious poems were written around the time of the disintegration of Plath's marriage to British poet Ted Hughes, and not long before her suicide in London on Feb. 11, 1963.
Poets Frank Bidart, Jorie Graham, Kimiko Hahn, Richard Howard and Katha Pollitt, and literary critic Helen Vendler took turns reading the poems at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Hughes read the first and last poems, and Plath, restored to life in a recording, read the title poem.
The clipped consonants and drawn-out vowels of Plath's Massachusetts accent perfectly suited the stringent verse: "And I/Am the arrow,/The dew that flies/Suicidal, at one with the drive/Into the red/Eye, the cauldron of morning."

The cumulative thrust of her crystalline vision was overwhelming and hypnotic. Hughes occasionally swallowed hard or pressed a finger beneath her eyes during the reading. The more than 400 audience members in the sold-out Proshansky Auditorium sat with eyes closed, or followed along in their books; by intermission, organizers had sold out all 200 volumes.
The marathon and historic reading celebrated the new collection, which reinstates Plath's original selection and arrangement of the poems. In editing the book for the 1965 British and 1966 U.S. versions, Ted Hughes had removed more than 10 of Plath's poems and replaced them with some of the last poems Plath wrote before her death.

As Frieda Hughes explains in the introduction, her father did this both to shield neighbours and family from some of the more venomous works, and because he believed the later poems made for a stronger collection. Though he included the poems in Plath's The Collected Poems, in 1981, many vilified Hughes for his initial omissions.

"His choice was made with one kind of purpose in mind, but also to make it the best book he could, and my mother's was made with another purpose in mind, but also to make it the best book she could," Frieda Hughes told The Associated Press earlier on Tuesday.
Hughes said she was hesitant when asked to write the foreword by publisher HarperCollins. Though she had read her father's Birthday Letters at his request, shortly before he died in 1998, and later read his posthumous Collected Poems, Hughes had only skimmed a dozen of her mother's poems to satisfy herself that her own poetry was not like Plath's.
"Going anywhere near my mother's poetry just reminded me of the fact that she wasn't there," Hughes said, "and the fact that she wasn't there was constantly being brought up by the media, and it made it very emotionally difficult.

"I feel very acutely the loss of her. ... It was almost as if I was never allowed to grow out of it, because of this perpetual rehashing of her actual suicide. I had begun to feel that that was the only thing she was famous for - when in fact, although she lived a short life, she made her life count."

Despite any initial misgivings, Hughes's thoughts on her mother's life and writing offer a calm, tender account of a life that has too often been fodder for sensationalist coverage. The new book also contains such historical treasures as a facsimile of Plath's typed manuscript, her handwritten and typed versions of the title poem and the author's wonderfully dry introductions to poems she read for a BBC broadcast.

Different voices brought various aspects of Plath to Tuesday's reading, from Bidart's animated but conversational delivery to Pollitt's quiet humour to Graham's theatricality.
Afterward, Hahn and Howard spoke of being depleted, but also awed and enriched by the evening.

"It was a revelation," Howard said. "I just was astonished and loved being in it."

The reading was presented by the Academy of American Poets, HarperCollins and the Poetry Society of America.

Frieda Hughes was interviewed on NPR's Morning Addition. The interview can be heard here.
It includes a recording of both Sylvia herself reading as well as her daughter in a rare reading of her mother's work.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004